I really enjoyed this post, Disneyland’s Original Prospectus Revealed, by Cory Doctorow on Boing Boing. An anonymous source showed Boing Boing the original drawings and a ten-page brochure that Walt Disney shared with bankers in order to raise $17M to build Disneyland in 1953.
As a marketer, three things struck me hard, while reading this post and doing a little research about Walt. Please check out the ten-page brochure (see below), two drawings and pay attention to the text.
Working on the weekend: In order to demonstrate what the park would look like, Walt called a talented artist and a friend, Herbert Ryman, on Saturday, September 23, 1953. Ryman’s response to Walt’s request: “You’re crazy. You’ve got a lot of nerve to call me on a Saturday, hoping I can come up with something. Well I can’t. Nobody in the world can do it. It will embarrass me and you. I don’t want anything to do with it. We’re still good friends, but that’s impossible.“ About two hours later, Ryman was hard at work. By Sunday night, he and Walt had finished a beautiful detailed drawing of the park. (see the drawings below)
Take away: As successful as Walt was, he still worked on weekends.
In a way, Walt was just like us: when you have deadlines to meet, you hustle.
If he needed to call a friend and work on the weekend, he called a friend and worked through the weekend to get something done.
Usage of visuals and story telling: Even though he had a grand vision about his park, he knew that bankers wouldn’t “get” it. He needed to bring his vision to life on paper to show them. The drawings were not enough. He needed to explain what the park was all about. Rather than jumping to explain what features and facilities of the park, he focused on “Why” he wanted to build a park first:
SOMETIME – IN 1955 – WILL PRESENT FOR THE PEOPLE OF THE WORLD – AND TO CHILDREN OF ALL AGES – A NEW EXPERIENCE IN ENTERTAINMENT.
IN THESE PAGES IS PROFFERED A GLIMPSE INTO THIS GREAT ADVENTURE… A PREVIEW OF WHAT THE VISITOR WILL FIND IN DISNEYLAND.”
“DISNEYLAND: Where you leave TODAY… and visit the World of YESTERDAY and TOMORROW.”
Take away: Absolutely brilliant! In these three short paragraphs, he identified his target audience (everyone in the world – who), the reasons to build a park (a new experience in entertainment – why), the vision of the park (the park of yesterday and tomorrow – what), the timeline of completion (in 1955 -when).
He went on to explain the “why” in detail on the next page, “The Disneyland Story.” Then, he proceeded to explain “what” would be inside Disneyland. Therein we find the park we are familiar with today: Main Street, the World of Tomorrow, It’s a Small World ride and more.
Keep trying: His original pitch to three bankers in New York City using the drawing and brochure was not successful. Ultimately, with his brother’s help, he did raise the money he needed.
Take away: As successful and influential as Walt was, he still got rejected.
Failures and rejections are part of everyone’s life. We all have to learn to deal with it. No sweat!
Fast forward to 2014, we can’t just create visuals and a ten-page brochure for our pitches to investors or venture capital firms. However, the need to explain why your idea matters and then tell a story about why your idea matters still holds true today.
Below are the drawings and the ten-page brochure . I hope you enjoy them as much as I do. https://archive.org/details/Disneylandoriginalprospectus